The Echoes of the Mind (64-1) Eyewitness Misinformation

Eyewitness Misinformation

Our memory is built to change, not regurgitate facts, so we are not very reliable witnesses. ~ Donna Jo Bridge

Eyewitnesses asked to identify a suspect in a lineup rely upon remembered facial features which match those presented. This exercise in relative judgment results in choosing anyone in the lineup who looks most like the suspect, even when the suspect is not in the lineup. The use of lineups has been an engine of injustice in the law enforcement system.

Initially recalled details became particularly susceptible to interference from later misinformation. ~ American psychologist Jason Chan

Memory conjunction error occurs when related elements are combined to create a composite that off is the mark from actuality. Having seen the 2 faces on the left, people often claim to remember the face on the right, which combines features of those previously seen.

Because retrieval enhances memory, it seems logical that recalling an event prior to receiving misinformation about it should reduce eyewitness suggestibility. But the inherent paradox in memory processing aids falsification: cued recall exacerbates the ease with which misinformation is incorporated into a memory. This owes to the consolidation process that occurs with memory recall.

People’s later memory of an event can be altered by exposure to misinformation about that event. ~ Jason Chan et al